sergeant_zainah_creamer

Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units!

Women shouldn’t be in combat units! Only men are in combat units!

How many times have I heard this? Enough that I now just shake my head and chuckle.

That is why I put an ass-kicking female soldier in my novel, Paws on the Ground? Why is she “humping” on patrol with combat units?

News flash! Women make up 20% of our military and are all over combat zones. They are working side by side with historically all male combat units and are engaging the enemy on a daily basis. Woman just aren’t officially “assigned” to combat units. While the debate rages across the country, I guarantee you that on this very day there are female dog handlers leading infantry patrols in Afghanistan and I bet you they are doing a kick ass job.

Today’s combat is on an asymmetrical battlefield: the fight and dangers are all around you. There are no “front lines” when you are in Afghanistan.

If you have a moment check out this article written about my company in Baghdad in 2005. Three out of the five lieutenants in my company were woman. All are tremendous officers with six deployments, a purple heart, a bronze star with valor, and command of a company in combat among the three.

So who is Megan Jayburn from Paws on the Ground?

She’s your daughter, your sister, the girl next door. Just like them she could kick your ass! She’s an American soldier who is fighting in Afghanistan for your freedom.

Note: The photo above is Sergeant Zainah C. Creamer and her military working dog Jofa. Sergeant Creamer died of wounds sustained in a Taliban ambush in January of 2010 as she led an Army Infantry combat patrol with Jofa. Yes, I said she was leading an infantry patrol–a female Soldier and her dog. I will never forget this day. I received the notification at Headquarters, United States Forces – Afghanistan and knew immediately that she was the first female dog handler to be killed in action. It still chokes me up thinking about it. Jofa was not injured in the attack.

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61 thoughts on “Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units!

  1. helen carey books

    Great to read this, I was an officer in the British army years ago and although we were taught to shoot we were also taught flower arranging!! It’s good to see that attitudes have changed so much – although there’s probably still some way to go!

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Flower arranging! O my goodness…that is just ridiculous. We certainly have progressed.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      You know that is a great question Barbara. Do any of the MWD handlers that visit the site know? If not I’ll research it and see if I can find out the answer.

      Reply
  2. aj Melnick

    Kevin, I belong to an obedience training dog club. Nniety-five percent of the participants who are training their dogs are WOMEN! Not only am I a dog advocate, I am also a women’s advocate!
    aj

    Reply
  3. Wanda517

    I was in the USAF 1971 – 1975 and the WAF were not allowed to run the Obstacle courses or handle weapons. We spent 2 to 3 hours each day in classes learning how to apply make-up. sheesh. they changed the training for women shortly after that.

    Reply
    1. Diana P

      Wanda517: thank you for your service! I served in the USAF 1980-2010, and it’s only due to the efforts of women like you who served before me that I DIDN’T have to learn the art of make-up application during basic training!

      Reply
      1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

        That is what we call evolution Wanda. Soon this subject will be a distant memory as well…..so I hope.

        Reply
  4. Dona Watson

    This is such an interesting post. I recently stumbled across your site (on Twitter, I think) and am so fascinated with the stories and info on your site. When I read your posts I feel like a sponge soaking up stories that are so foreign to me. By chance do you have a publisher for your book yet?

    Reply
  5. yankeemom

    I wear Sgt Creamer’s bracelet on my wrist – she was a friend of my daughter and son in law (as I commented at your previous post before I read this one). I unfortunately never met her but from what I have heard about her, she was a wonderful woman and Soldier.
    I’ll see if I can find out about Jofa.
    She’s also listed at the MWD National Memorial website here:
    http://www.jbmf.us/Mem-wot.asp
    as well as the KIA dog handlers of the Vietnam War.
    Great site if you haven’t been there.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thanks Deb. I’ve heard that Jofa is back at work with a new handler. I appreciate you checking with your son on Jofa’s status for everyone here on the site.

      Reply
  6. Adriana Johnson

    Kevin,

    Thank your for giving your angle on this subject. I have heard women should not be due to our anatomy and such. I have questioned this before myself. I highly enjoyed reading this blog. It clears things up in questions I have had. I very much look foward to buying your book someday and diving in deep to more stories. Honors.

    Adriana Johnson

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Adriana. To be honest, I’m not really sure why the politicians are discussing this. The military has already recognized reality and embraced it. Just pass the law so it can be official.

      Reply
      1. Darla Hobson

        I’d like to think that the military has embraced it. As a civilian, I am grateful for the service of both our male and female soldiers. But what about all the discussion about the prevalence of rape in the military? If the military truly has embraced females as equals, shouldn’t sexual assault be a rarity? Just curious about the views of those who serve or have served.

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          Admittedly I haven’t done a lot of research on this. Sexual assault, rape…..sure they exist in the military but are they any more prevalent than is a comparable civilian environment……. I haven’t seen the numbers that tell me yes or no. To make an honest assessment I would have to see the raw data and analysis tools to form my own opinion…..numbers are easily manipulated.

          But what I can tell you is that any organization I have ever been in takes this VERY serious. I know I do as a leader. I have zero tolerance for that crap.

          Reply
          1. Jani Muhlestein

            The horrible truth that we don’t talk about in American society is this: rape happens. And it happens a lot. Sexual harassment and sexual assault happen. A lot. The difference is that the military has gotten a great deal of press about it. It would be very interesting to know exactly what difference the rates are between military and general society. I suspect that they’re not that different, frankly. Especially when you consider that 1/3 of all rapes in general society are never reported.

            They say that 1 in 3 women will be raped in the military. It would be a good question to find out how that has changed in the past 11 years, considering the fact that there have been a lot more women in the military, and that they have been involved in on the front lines. My suspicion is that there is a lot less of it as the newer generation of men comes into the military, and as the newer generation of women comes in. My daughter is being taught to defend herself rather fiercly. And my nephews have a respect for women that their mothers and fathers taught them that would enver allow such behavior. It all comes down to attitude and belief. If you believe that women are less than men, then they’re usable. If you believe that they’re just as valuable, then they’re not.

            But what hasn’t ever been addressed, and should be, is the rate of male rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

            Um, can the 15-year-old (birthday girl!) just come and work for you? ‘Cause I’d trust her with you…

  7. CarrieAnn

    There were many matriarchal societies in ancient times where women were the warriors. Women can be the fiercest of warriors. Just like not ever man is suited to the task of being a combat soldier, the same is true of women. But those women that are capable, have earned their place. Bless the fighting men and WOMEN of our military.

    Reply
  8. Shannon

    Recently you hear all the stuff about women being “allowed to work closer to the front lines”, an AFN news announcement. I am just sitting here listening to it and all the other stuff and I think back to when I was deployed to Iraq with my MWD along with two other female dog handlers. And guess what? We were in the stink just like the infantry units we were assigned to. We averaged more combat missions then the male handlers at one of our other FOB’s. We were there, we were taking on fire, returning fire, kicking ass and taking names. We did it and we did our jobs well. I get so aggravated when the people on the Hill want to act like it’s not happening. I’m so proud that women have been able to prove that we are capable of doing the job.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      You are so right Shannon. Female troops are side by side our males troops and it is time we as a society recognize this and allow woman to pursue all career functions. One should be judged on merit and not gender.

      Reply
  9. J.A. Garland

    As a full time firefighter in a large fire department, I am proud to be seen as a “sister” among my “brothers.” The days of male and female restricted jobs/ranks long behind us, it amazes me that this sentiment hasn’t carried across to all professions. I tell all the new firefighters, male or female, “use your head, pull your load, and you will promote with respect.” Here’s to hoping the military will catch on.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      That is great J.A…..glad to see full integration. I was wondering about that after reading Mary’s post.

      In our defense, the military is run by civilians. Us folks in uniform follow their rules…..like it or not. Until then we will play this “shell game” with our people.

      Reply
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  11. Pamela Kramer

    It’s ironic that women are dying for a country where women can’t drive, vote or do much of anything independently. Ironic and very, very sad that women and men are losing their lives over there.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      You should see the faces of the young female girl when she see a U.S Soldier and realize it is a girl. I want to believe our presence gives the next generation the greatest gift we can give the Afghan people…. hope.

      Reply
      1. Jani Muhlestein

        Actually, that’s part of the communist manifesto of the old Soviet Union. Let’s say, everybody should be allowed to reach their full potential, regardless of gender.

        Sorry, I got my degree in Soviet History.

        Reply
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  13. Kenady.Krushe

    Sir, thank you for posting this. I’m a recently turned 18 year old soldier in the US Army. I’m currently writing a paper for my final english grade and it’s worth 15% of my grade. MY arguement paper is over why females should be allowed in combat MOSs in the military. Your blog helped a lot, and I’m going to proudly cite you in my paper. Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      O wow Kenady…I am honored. If you need anything…quote or such please just email me. I would be happy to help. Best of luck with yoru paper.

      Reply
  14. StephanieK

    Same thing with the Marine Corps. When I was in boot camp there were pictures up of some of the first female recruits learning the proper way to serve tea and coffee, apply makeup and behave like ladies. We’ve come a long way.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Those ladies were the trend setters Stephanie. Now female Marines will have a whole new fight integrating into the infantry. The Marines- trend setters as usual!

      Reply
      1. Savvy

        Hey Kevin, I was just going through the process of joining the Marines about a year ago and I learned that, while we would be taught the same basics as the men, it won’t be to the same degree. Sadly I never got to see if they were just bullshitting me or not since they disqualified me for a bad knee and wrist. Just glad I don’t have to worry about how to ‘properly’ apply make-up and arrange flowers. Why would we need to know how to do that anyways? Anyways, thank you for this site! I was looking for something to write as a resource for my essay to go along with the main part and I found this! Thanks again!
        Savvy

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          Hi Savvy,

          Sorry to hear about your disqualification. I often wonder about initial entry training and how the troops are trained. In the Army women and men are trained together at several locations. Do the Marines do the same thing?

          Yeah….some great folks before you took care of that make-up silliness!

          Best of luck with you essay….hope it all works out!

          Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      It is an honor Hannah. It is also what I believe in. The Marines are already starting to buck this traditional boys club and send women officer to infantry school. Those young officers will have a rough road ahead of them. They are trailblazers and I wish them well. I hope the Army follows suite. I believe it will over time.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I laughed when he said this Hannah. I think it is a very uninformed perspective. Plus it is plain silly.

      Reply
  15. Kristen

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you for posting this, I am pleased to know that there are male soldiers out there who value women in the military as people, and not some sort of foreign species that needs to be “handled”. I joined an infantry reserve unit just as the Canadian Military started letting women into combat roles. During my two courses that summer, I had to deal with some very “old school” attitudes about women in the military, in general. I one greatest accomplishment that summer, wasn’t being top female in my company, but that I was able to change the mind of ONE of my instructors – with a codicil of course, that it was okay for women to be there so long as they were all like me! The only thing that annoyed me, was that the entrance standards for women were (and are) less than those for men. Just as with any other occupation out there, if you can’t meet the minimum standards, then you shouldn’t be doing the job! I am pleased to say that most of the female soldiers I know do their absolute best to not only meet the male standards, but to beat the “best” of the men that are competing against them. It’s that drive that makes us as accomplished as we are.

    Kristen

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Kristen. Thank you for sharing your awesome story! I can only imagine how challenging that must have been. Very cool about your instructor. Our armies are the most professional organizations in our governments. We may be a bit slow to change, there may be some challenges with, but we do change.

      I agree about the standards. The standards need to be updated to reflect the true requirements though. Expecting women to do the same amount of pushups (in most cases) is silly…..but why does anyone need to do 70 pushups in two minutes? I’m not talking about watering down the standards…… just make the standards relevant.

      Reply
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  18. Naomi L Gruse

    I appreciate a male Soldier AND Officer stepping up to face this battle. I served as an enlisted Soldier then commissioned as an Officer 2003-2010, and have always faced this battle. I’v been taken off assignments because” You’re a mother”, and had to justify my family care plan in vast detail in order to go on assignments. Your articles bring tears to my eyes as this silent battle is fought because of antiquated mindsets. I have served with many women who have been the epitome of what a Soldier and leader should be. My hope is that someday we can get beyond this childish thinking and truly serve as one military. God bless.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Naomi. Being a both a Soldier and a mom is a tough road. I always say that we lose some of our best talent because they leave to be moms. Eventually we will get this righted!

      Reply
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  22. Adam Robertson

    there are some problems with this article, first off i want to say that i intent no disrespect to the fallen soldier. being 11b for 4 years with 2 deployments i understand what happened and the impact on her unit and family. disclaimer aside heres whats wrong: she was attached to an infantry unit, she was leading the patrol, or rather her dog was, but she was not incharge of the patrol by any means. the purpose of the dog handlers is to send the dog out so it can sniff around for smells associated with IEDs, the most common smell being from ammonium nitrate. what they did wrong on the patrol was that they didnt have a metal dector out in front, the dog handler should have been the 2nd or third person back, the dog with her, so when they get a hit ( from the aluminum powder which is also very common in IEDs) on the metal dector they should have sent her and the dog up to investigate so why she was up front has got me puzzled. then again maybe the unit didnt have the metal dectors. moving on, so only 66 women have died due to combat related injuries, how many of those were from direct contact compared to IDF or IEDs? those are indiscriminatory killers, or equal opportunity killers. there are front lines, if the person who wrote this is a vet, and a combat vet, (meaning someone who didnt sit on a FOB or just convoy base to base) you should know that there are places that arnt as secure as say the green zone or KAF. places where contact is imminent.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Adam. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the site.

      I actually cover the whole attached, assigned, in support of, etc….shell game we play as a military to meet the mission, in the next few pieces in this series.

      http://khanrahan.com/2012/03/30/reasons-why-women-shouldnt-be-in-combat-units/
      http://khanrahan.com/2012/04/20/more-reasons-why-women-shouldnt-be-in-combat/
      http://khanrahan.com/2012/06/01/last-reasons-why-women-shouldnt-be-in-combat/

      Dog teams are trained not to confirm what a metal detector has already alerted to. You can ask any of them…..”Hey dog guy, I think there is an IED up there. Go take your dog and check it out.”

      Here is what the handler will say, “Not a chance in hell brother. Send the Afghans or call EOD.”…….. or something to that affect.

      There are many tactics techniques and procedure when employing a K9 team. I have seen the metal detector first and then the dog team. You think your way is better…..not all share this sentiment. Personally….. I would rather lose a dog than a Soldier working a metal detector.

      I’ll let you do the research on your question. I would love to know the answer. Of course it doesn’t mean squat because women aren’t allowed in combat units that engage directly with the enemy, right?

      Again I appreciate your point of view. You were/ are in the trenches. But there is nothing out there that says women can’t do this job….well, besides Congress and folks who practice gender discrimination.

      Reply
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  25. Mark G.

    Our soldiers, male & female, human & canine, just take my breath away! They are the one bright spot in our nation today. They give me hope for the US. I hope our leaders do what is right so that their service is not in vain!
    Thanks Kevin!!

    Reply

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